Saturday, July 28, 2012

Answers or Beauty?

In light of the Colorado theatre shooting, I am struck with how terrible things happen to people everyday. I am sure that there are many that are asking “why?” and “how can a loving God do such a thing?” These are vital questions that everyone must answer. Myself, I answered them long ago and though I could talk about the reasons, I don't want to right now. The bottom line is that I have faith and I know my God and I don't define my God by what happens to me; I define what happens to me by knowing God. You can ask yourself “Why?” all eternity long about the bad things that happen to you, but you will only kill your spirit, draining yourself of the strength to face another day.

So I choose to focus on the positive. For example, the story of Petra Anderson, who survived a shot in the head because of a brain defect she had had since birth though she had no idea of it. She had a channel of fluid that ran from the front of her brain to the back and the bullet happened to follow that channel so as to not damage the vital parts of her brain. That is certainly not a coincidence. God had prepared her from birth to get through this incident. What she does with that from now on will be the true miracle.

I can look back and see that God prepared me for breast cancer. Eleven months prior to my diagnosis, I got a wonderful job from home that has allowed me to keep up with working all through my treatments. I didn't opt for medical coverage when I was hired, but was urged to seek double coverage at the time of diagnosis. Since k12 had grown so much (in a recession no less :-) they were switching everyone over to a new insurance and so I was able to get coverage with no pre-existing condition exclusion and my doctors were in the network. From the people he has surrounded me with, to the knowledge of Him in which I was firmly planted, God has lovingly provided me with all I need to get through this part of my life. Not just to survive, but to proclaim his glory through it all.

Our lives are a mosaic lovingly arranged by God. Our hearts are delicate pieces of glass that God breaks apart and it may seem like random shattering. But he picks up each piece in his loving hands and adds his own pieces and makes a beautiful masterpiece. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle, we can't see the picture that He is making and the finished product isn't always recognizable. In fact, I don't think the masterpiece of our lives is ever really finished. Sometimes you have to step back to see the beauty in the shattered pieces, but it's there. You can look for answers or you can look for beauty, but strength comes from beauty.

Psalm 22: 9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Light Upon my Path

I went to the doctor yesterday before getting my weekly chemo. He said that my labs look good and that the CAT scan is clear. He is very pleased on how well the drugs are working and how well I am handling the Chemo. I pressed him about how long I will have to keep up the weekly chemo. He didn't want to use the word “indefinitely” but he did say it is not unheard of patients being on these type of drugs for two years! The thing is, he explained, is this is a brand new drug that is doing its job so he doesn't want to stop prematurely and then have the cancer come back. There is a lot of hope in what he said, but the thought of two more years of this is just disheartening to say the least. I am tolerating the medicine rather well, but that doesn't mean that it is easy, by no means. And just the time it takes and how tired I am afterwards—my Thursdays are pretty much shot.

I am trying to stay on the bright side, as difficult as that is. I am trying to look at this as a chronic condition, like lupus or diabetes. These drugs are doing a good job managing my disease, but aren't without their inconveniences and side effects. Like some chronic illnesses, there is a chance that I will go into remission and be able to get off the drugs. But in the mean time they are necessary and just part of my life.

So, as always, I need to trust my future to God. I posted a couple of weeks ago: “We want answers to our questions because sometimes they are easier to trust than God. -- Beth Booram”
Lord, help me to trust you when answers are hard to come by. I would so much like the doctor to say I am done with this and be able to move on from this facet of my life. But there are obviously lessons I still need to learn, places I still need to grow. The Lord knows what he is doing.

My new obsession is the song “Better than I” from the movie Joseph, King of Dream. It is so beautiful! It expresses exactly how we are to react when our future is not certain.

If this has been a test,
I cannot see the reason.
But maybe knowing I don't know
Is part of getting through.

I try to do what's best,
And faith has made it easy,
To see the best thing I can do
I Is put my trust in You.

For You know better than I,
You know the way.
I've let go the need the need to know why,
For You know better than I.

Joseph must have felt similar to me when he faced all that time in prison. He found himself in a situation he never expected to be in, he didn't want and with no end in sight. He had to trust that God knows what he is doing and he has a plan and a purpose in all of his sufferings. God gives us glimpses of His plan as wonderful gifts to keep us going (like days I get to encourage my fellow chemo buddies) but for the most part we just need to trust him. Like a lantern to our path, God reveals just enough ahead of us to keep us going. If we saw the whole path, who is to say we wouldn't just freak and run away or freeze our movements altogether. Who is to say we would even understand it. If we knew the whole plan then we wouldn't have to trust God and have faith that everything will work out for His Glory and our good.

So here I am, trusting God with my future. I am to move ahead on my path, praising God and serving him in all that I do, holding the lantern of God's word and the Holy Spirit ahead of me, putting one foot before the other, trusting God with the darkness.

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Importance of Roots

This weekend I was struck by how important the roots are to a plant. With all the rain we've been getting lately, I am feeling refreshed and revitalized. I realized how desperate I was for the water. I am sure the plants were feeling the same, yet without those roots the water would never get to where it needs to—to the heart of the plant.

It is the same for us Christians. Unless we are rooted in the Word, no amount of quenching that God wants to do will get to our hearts. It will simply wash away without affecting us. Then when the storms come, our very essence will be washed away with all the muck and the mud.

These last couple of years have been full of storms. But they have also seen beautiful moments of gentle rain that refreshed and renewed my soul: a women's conference at just the right time, a date night with my husband, a Sunday message meant just for me. I'm not sure I would recognize those moments without being rooted in the Word. Sometimes it is even more subtle—a verse that comes to mind when I or a friend needs it the most. I am natorious for offering a verse and saying “I'm not sure where that is, but it is in the Bible somewhere.” Thank God for the searchable function of the Bible on my phone so I can be more precise.

No one was more rooted in the Word than Christ himself. It seems that he was quoting the Bible every time he opened his mouth. Maybe he had an advantage because, afterall, he is THE WORD. But, he was also fully human, so I imagine his mind worked much the same as ours. He used the Bible to settle arguments, challenge his followers, make a point, resist temptation, teach a lesson and so on. He comforted and challenged with the Word. There was never a situation or occasion where the words of the Bible were not appropriate.

Righteousness begins in the mind and language comes from the mind. It is right to use the words of the Bible to wash our thoughts and to fight the battles that happen there. Being rooted means that every day we stretch the tendrils of our thoughts into the Bible and explore what God would have us learn. Then, when the winds of storms blow, we will have an anchor for our souls and we will emerge stronger than ever.

Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.